Bruins: Hitting Their Stride Too Early?

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The Boston Bruins return home to the TD Garden on Tuesday after a whirlwind of a road trip going 4-0-1 out on the west coast.  The team seems to be hitting their stride as they have not lost in regulation in over a month.  The offense is producing, the defense continues to play strong, and Tuukka Rask has transformed back into a potential Vezina Trophy candidate.  The team has also remained relatively healthy besides David Pastrnak’s late night Uber accident.  With the Celtics stumbling over themselves and squabbling in the locker room, the Bruins are Boston’s hottest team right now.  However, we have seen this before out of Bruins’ teams of the past.  Can the 2018-19 Boston Bruins sustain this rate of play for a Stanley Cup run?


Photo courtesy of Hot96.9.com

Through 62 games, the Bruins have twenty games to go and sit in sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.  The Tampa Bay Lightning have essentially run away with first place and have seventeen more points than Boston.  There are several teams nipping at the Bruins' heels, and there will surely be a dog fight down the home stretch to earn one of the top two seeds.  To make a deep postseason run it would be advantageous for the Bruins to have home ice for as long as possible.  Playoff hockey is another breed of excitement as the final few teams fight for one of sports’ most iconic prizes.

Shop for official Boston Bruins team fan gear and authentic collectibles at Shop.NHL.com The Bruins are on an extremely impressive run at 8-0-2 in their last 10 games, but to beat Tampa Bay or some of their other Eastern Conference rivals the Bruins will need to make a few adjustments going forward.  It starts with managing ice time.  Over the last few seasons the Bruins have done just enough to squirm their way into the playoffs.  The NHL playoffs can be a long and strenuous journey that leaves players exhausted.  It would be wise if the Bruins can find ways to give their playmakers some rest.  Zdeno Chara, a notable player at age 41, often has a difficult time keeping his legs under him during the playoffs.  Chara has had a very impressive career, but he is no spring chicken.  He looks labored and tired in April.  Although he is a workhorse, it would be wise for Bruce Cassidy to manage his minutes.  He is by no means the only player that will require some maintenance rest during the month of March.

Tuukka Rask has been an ESPN Top 10 highlight reel since the New Years game against Chicago.  Rask has been known to have periods of sheer brilliance in the net throughout the season.  He had a rough start to the '18-'19 season but has found his “A Game” over the last two months.  Cassidy needs to continue to split time between Rask and Jaroslav Halak.  Halak’s rate of play has dropped off since the early portion of the season, but he is still a capable number two and will be essential in providing Rask with regularly scheduled days off.  Rask has seen action in 34 games this season and will most likely have at least 12 more starts this year.  Anything over that and Cassidy will risk fatiguing Tuukka and limiting the potential of this team.

The Bruins have made some roster moves prior to the trade deadline by acquiring Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Ryan Donato and a conditional draft pick.  Coyle played in his first game with the black and gold in Saturday’s shootout loss.  Picking up a strong third line center is a good move for the team.  The front office feels like they made an upgrade to a line that has produced very little this season.  The Bruins locker room can see this as a sign of good faith the organization believes in a Stanley Cup push this season.  Coyle could potentially pump in some fresh air and excitement to this team.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs lurk in the near future of the Boston Bruins, and if what we have seen over the last two months is the true identity of this team, then we have much to be excited about as fans.  The Bruins have had great difficulty the last few seasons being able to maintain a high caliber of play late into April.  It will be important that minutes are managed and leadership keeps the team focused.  As the core of this Bruins organization continues to age it is essential to try and hoist another cup with Bergeron and Chara at the helm.

If the Bruins can continue to produce at this high level and stay healthy they have a legitimate chance to chase after Lord Stanley’s Cup. A little bit of luck will be necessary as well, but the Bruins will also need to prove that they have chosen to reach their peak performance at the wrong time of the year.


Follow me on Twitter @MRobes12

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Bruins: Hitting Their Stride Too Early?
Bruins: Hitting Their Stride Too Early?
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